General Question

krypin's avatar

Is Linux as good as Windows/Mac Os?

Asked by krypin (41points) December 26th, 2007

The main reason for asking is curiosity whenever the free OS can be as usefull for everyday/professional usage.

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12 Answers

felipelavinz's avatar

Well, actually it depends on how do you use your PC, but generally I would have to say that it really is: a good Linux distribution (such as Ubuntu, Fedora or SUSE) can be an excellent choice compared to any Windows version. I couldn’t say the same for Mac OS X (which, by the way, it’s actually a remote UNIX relative) because I’ve never really used it.

Linux it’s way more secure than Windows and usually the communities that develop around certain distributions are helpful, educated and savvy. If you choose a Debian-based distribution (such as Ubuntu) I can guarantee that you will love Synaptic, a “package manager” that actually is a huge repository of free software: you just search for what you want to install, and Synaptic (or apt-get if you prefer the terminal) will download, configure and install it, as well as always keeping it up to date.

There are Free Software alternatives that work on Linux for practically every software you may need, and since there are many governments switching to Linux/Free Software/Open Source, you may expect that their development will only lead to an increasingly better software.

Also, there is WINE, a compatibility layer that allows to run Windows programs on Linux, and, as a last alternative, you could even set up a virtual machine to run essential software that’s not available for Linux.

Oh! And I almost forgot: Compiz Fusion! It has some really cool effects, sure, but that’s not all. Once you start using it, you’ll see that you’ll certainly be more productive.

robhaya's avatar

I second the above answer and will also add that OS X which I run at home is far superior to any version of Windows and very secure. I have used both Suse and RedHat Linux distributions and find them to be very worthwhile and excellent.

In terms of your question about everyday and professional usage, the answer is Yes. There are numerous examples of people using Linux desktops for professional use. One example is the city of Largo, Florida uses Linux in their government offices, from desktops to servers.

Good Luck!

VoodooLogic's avatar

I’ve switched to Linux over a year ago and I believe it to be as good or better than Windows. Basic computer users can do everything they need and people who seek to empower themselves into a higher level of geekdom have an exponential amount room to grow.

mirza's avatar

I agree Linux can do the same basic things just as well like a PC or mac.
But when it comes to professional usage, Linux does not come close to Windows/ Mac. Most of the pro applications that you need for work is not available as open-source. For-example, Open Office is a great replacement for a basic word-processor and a spreadsheet tool. But Open Office lacks some of the pro options of MS Office like the Solver tool for Excel or the VB macros for Access. My biggest problem with linux is that i dont find it as user-friendly as a Mac or a PC. Unless you are really into coding, I would say no to switching to linux. Another example is the fact that it so complicated to install something on linux while both windows/mac offer one-click installs. Also condider the fact that some of the most powerful tools are not available for Linux like Adobe CS3, Maya,etc.

felipelavinz's avatar

Just because Adobe CS3 or MS Office are not available on Linux you should say that it doesn’t come close to professional usage. That’s not really a Linux issue, that’s an Adobe/MS Office issue

Anyway, it would be very useful to define what we understand as “professional usage”: if your profession is graphic design and you’re used to work with Adobe’s tools, then clearly you should use OS X or Windows (or use Photoshop 7 or CS with WINE)

On the other hand, if you work as a web developer or a programmer, then you really might want to give Linux a chance.

Finally, what’s so complicated about installing software on Linux? As I said before, if you use the terminal, you just have to type apt-get install firefox (or any other software), and if you prefer graphical tools, just go to Synaptic, search, select, apply. Both ways, all of your software will always be automatically up to date… oh, and Ubuntu even has a “Add or remove programs” app that’s also graphical and it might be even friendlier than Synaptic

mirza's avatar

i agree its the developer’s problem—
but honestly do you think linux is more user-friendly than windows or a mac ?

felipelavinz's avatar

I honestly do… I’ve been a long-time Windows user (3.1, 95, 98, 2000, XP and Vista) and I’ve been working with Linux for about a year: first with Ubuntu, then with Xubuntu, and then back to Ubuntu.

From my experience, I would have to say that I was so used to the way in which Windows works that when I first started using Linux and saw some things that weren’t quite the same or worked in a different way to “the windows way” I became a little frustrated: in Windows, I was a power user, but on Linux I was just a noob… so when I heard about “package management”, I freaked out: what the heck is that?

Then I started messing with GNOME themes, and found that there were control themes, and window decoration themes, and couldn’t understand that the two of them were different things… and that there were even different “engines”! I was very confused.

But, the good thing is that you don’t have to be an expert in the OS to do what you have/need/want to, and even more, you shouldn’t expect that all of the knowledge you acquired in one OS will simply translate to another OS (same thing applies to other pieces of software)

In the end, I just stopped trying to compare Linux to Windows, and realized that they were just different… they use different metaphors and certain processes are a little bit different, but in the end, I would say that Linux is just-as/more user-friendly as Windows… In Linux, you might have to use the terminal to get some things (everyday it’s less necessary, since there are new graphical tools for practically everything); on the other hand, in Windows security is not exactly user-friendly: you need to keep updated on security threads, use and know a good antivirus, be aware of spy/adware, etc…

Vincentt's avatar

I think it’s a well known fact that tastes differ, so it really depends on your needs. There’s really no one OS that fits all.

Personally, I’ve switched to a Linux distribution a few years ago and never regretted it. Not only because it fits better with me ideologically, but also because it is IMHO way more user-friendly than Windows (haven’t ever used a Mac).

Really, installation of software nodadays is ten times easier than it is on Windows, and people that tell otherwise haven’t used Linux for a long time, or have used some unknown distribution.

And as I said, tastes differ. But as there are so many tastes of Linux (I use Xubuntu now, Ubuntu seems like a good starting point for most people) it is more likely that there’s one among them that suits your needs than that e.g. Windows would do that. On the other hand, this does mean that you need to put some effort into finding a product that works for you. But then again, isn’t that logically when you’re deciding about buying an expensive product?

In fact, the only real advantage IMHO of Windows is that it is so widely used and thus is supported by the hardware (instead of the other way around: Linux distributions have to support hardware) and that certain software is available only for Windows.

Also, the “professional usage” argument isn’t really a good one, since “professional” has a lot of meanings. There are some areas where Linux just isn’t an option (e.g. for Flash developers, I don’t believe you can run the Flash development studio (what’s it called?) on Linux). However, if you like the example named before, webdesign, that Linux really is the better option.

Anyway, the most important thing to realize when considering switching OSes, is that there’s going to be a learning curve. Most distributions (versions) come with very good documentation. However, if you take e.g. Xubuntu’s documentation, there’s a tiny problem: it’s set as the homepage of the browser, leading to people opening the browser, ignoring the documentation and loading another website. Also, some things just aren’t going to work. But remember: the same is true for every OS. I’d miss a lot of applications if I were to go back to Windows…

MedivhX's avatar

Linux CAN DO most of the things that Windows or MacOS can do, and it can also do something that neither of them can – it can be used as server (ok you can use Windows or MacOS for serving, but that would be just too retarded, because they don’t do the job as well as Linux can, and they’re also too expensive).

I switched to Linux a bit more than a year ago. I was searching for the perfect distro, and I found it – it’s Kubuntu. I use it for EVERYTHING, and yes even for gaming (with Wine emulator). It totally replaced Windows, that I had before, and it’s very easy to use, too.

So, in Linux you have a choice of many desktop environments, and the most popular of them are KDE and GNOME. KDE is more powerful, but for the concequence it is a little harder to use. GNOME is simpler and easier to use than KDE. There are some more desktop environments and window manageras, but these two are mainstream. (maybe you heard from someone that KDE is simpler to use, but that’s just no true, or to be more specific not true at all)

In Linux you can find a substitute for all/most of the Windows/MacOS applications. They are very easy to install if you use a package manager, but if you want compile them you will have to learn some commands (nothing special or too hard to learn).

Linux is virus-free! (there are only about 500 viruses, but they’re not dangerous at all)

With a standard Linux installation, you will get most of the programs you need (office suite, browser, e-mail client, etc.). With some distributions you will even get some extra software, but there are also distributions whose goal is to be as small in size as they can (puppy linux, damn small linux…), so they don’t have some bigger applications.

That was for the personal use. As for the professional use, the usefulness of Linux will depend on your profession.

Truefire's avatar

Yes, Ubuntu(Linux) is ready. My upcoming site, will address the transition from Windows to Linux.
Mac users have really no huge reason to switch, as Mac OSX is based on linux.
Though Linux will save you money :D.

There are plenty of pro apps, to name a few:

OpenOffice(Global standard. MS Office is not, that’s wool over your eyes.)
The GIMP(is actually used in advertising agencies. Equivalent to Photoshop, but free.)
Blender(3d photo editing…incredible results.)

The biggest difference is, Linux is not just an OS- it’s a community.

Linux is Open-source, which means that many people work on it under one leader.
These people modify EVERY part of it, send their version; and it is refined.
This Open source mentality encourages good use of technology and enhances learning,
literally allowing jr programmers to open it up, and put it back together.
Of course, that’s with their systems, not yours. You only get the best versions.
This is an awful explanation,
but the end-result is a more perfected system than Windows could ever be.
It is also easier to use, despite the old,“Linux is for coders“thing.

macgeek61's avatar

I am not sure about what is “good” in my comparison, but I have had issues with Linux and the “strings” end of it. I was never good with DOS so I kind of like the ease of a mac. I’ve tried Ubuntu.

bomyne's avatar

Linux is better than Windows… and Mac OSX is technically an Unix distro (Same core that Linux is based on).

Linux has security – On Windows, most users run as an admin account, as Windows does not discourage this. On Linux, Most users run as a standard account.

On Windows, a normal user can still do irrevocable damage to the operating system. On Windows, a video game released a couple of years back destroyed the boot up sequence of any Windows Machine it was installed on. This problem was entirely accidently, and was the result of a faulty installer script. But it still happened.
On Linux, A normal user has no access to system files and configuration. I can not replace the boot files of my Linux system without first providing the password.

On Linux, as the admin user, I can replace just about any system program I want with another. If I don’t like the user environment, replace it! If I don’t like the kernel, replace it! If I don’t like the boot loader…. You guessed it, replace it.
On Windows, not only can you not replace certain programs (such as Explorer) without heavily modifying your system, or damaging the OS… Microsoft encrypts certain parts of the operating system.

On Windows, the Operating system costs money, and is limited to a single system (unless you bought a multisystem license)
On Linux, the operating system is 100% free, and you can install it on as many computers, laptops, etc as you want.

On Linux (And MacOSX), you can run Windows programs, in addition to Linux (or OSX) programs. Most Linux distros ship with WINE, which allows you to run Windows programs on Linux… and OSX can install this system too.
On Windows, you can only run Windows programs. Windows does not ship with a linux (Or OSX) eco system, and as far as I know, you can not get a third party Linux Eco system.

On Windows, only Microsoft’s employees have access to the source code… Only their employees are working to fix bugs and close security holes.
On Linux, YOU can access the source code for almost any program. YOU can submit patches. YOU can close security loopholes.

On Windows, you have to be careful about viruses. A virus that infects a Windows computer has instant access to the entire system.
On Linux, with a few exceptions, a virus that infects a linux machine is limited only to the user account that it infected. This is because, if security is set up correctly, the current user account has no access to the other user accounts… And no access to system configuration files or binaries.

That said, No operating system is perfect… and that’s why it’s vitally important, Windows, Linux or OSX, that you keep your system 100% up to date. Windows has Windows update, OSX has the update section of the App Store… and most Linux distros have their own updaters.

Also, thanks to Android and ChromeOS… Linux is actually the number one used home Operating system. That’s right, if you have a phone, you have a roughly 45% chance to be using Linux (With a 45% chance to be using iOS, and 10% chance to be using one of the minor OSes).

Also, On linux… If I can’t get a program to do what I want, I can go into the terminal and do the commands myself manually.

ALL THAT SAID, however…
I have four computers myself… One Linux Mint 17.1 Laptop, One Linux Mint 17 Netbook, One iMac…. and One Windows 7 PC.
The 17.1 Laptop is my main machine. I use it for every day work. I have an iMac because I want to one day develop software for both major mobile systems.

And I keep a WIndows 7 PC for gaming. Gaming on Linux and OSX is great, for native games… and there are a lot of those. Some companies (Like Blizzard) have supported the Mac for years… some companies (like Valve) are just starting to see the potentional in Linux….

But many companies would rather hold fast to something they know will sell… and that’s the Windows Platform… So as a gamer, I can not (yet) afford to abandon Windows. WINE is great, it supports a large number of Windows games… but there are Windows games that it does not (yet) support.

If you are not a gamer, I’d advise you make the leap to Linux. If you are a gamer, you can always set up a dual-boot system.

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